23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple….

Luke 14:27

Beginning with a few moments of quiet.

The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you.

Find a comfortable space and when ready, take three deep breaths. As you breathe in feel your lungs filling all the way up, when they are full slowly release your breath and feel your lungs emptying out fully. Repeat this three times.

Now return to breathing normally and take a few moments to reflect on:

  • Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
  • Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?

If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.

Led By the Spirit – Eric Nordhoff

and when you are ready read the Gospel

a familiar story, and when we encounter a familiar story we can be inclined to hear the version we know rather than actually hearing the story. Try to listen to it as if for the first time, hearing something new in it…

the GospelLuke 14:25-33

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

Reflect on the Gospel

Sit quietly now for a few moments and allow the images created by hearing the Gospel to emerge.

Use some quietening music again if you wish.

Fairytale – Ludovico Einaudi

Ask yourself, how is this Gospel speaking to my situation in my life in this moment.

We continue this Gospel sequence where Jesus is challenging the norms of our culture and inviting us to look, in what appears to be a harsh way, at our relationships.

Are we meant to take it literally and hate our families. I think we can safely say that hate in the sense of how we understand it is not in Jesus’ vocabulary. It is a call for us to break free from any habit or relationship that holds us back.

Read the following extract from MICHEL DE VERTEUIL – Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels, Year C and see in what way it speaks to your reflection on the Gospel.

Discipleship of Jesus takes many forms and we interpret this passage in the light of the particular form of discipleship to which we have committed ourselves – marriage, parenting, friendship, career, religious life or priesthood. We think of other commitments we and others make: to social change for example – bringing about reconciliation between ethnic groups or religions, or reforming economic, educational or political systems, locally or internationally.
Jesus’ language is startling at a first reading, harsh even, for example its stress on “hating” and the need to give up “all one’s possessions”. Our meditation must feel the passion of Jesus as well as uplift us. The secret is to let the passage speak to our experiences of grace, of Jesus alive in the world today, and in each of us too, to the extent that we are his presence for others. It will also be a call to conversion of course, because we are often not like him.

We can shift the focus of our meditation from the person of Jesus to the process of decision making or coming to maturity which he calls us to. We all experience turning points in our lives, when in response to an inner call, we make choices which bring us to a new level of maturity. These moments of grace always involve finding our true identity by renouncing attachments – to people, projects, ideas, institutions. We decide to “carry our own cross,” to discover our own destiny, the greatness to which we have been called. So long as we derive our identity from others, even those closest to us, we remain immature.

MICHEL DE VERTEUIL – Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels, Year C

What is this Gospel calling me to be or to change this week?

See the full text by Michel De Verteuil here

Close the time of Prayer with the Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Additional Resources

Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on our Gospel for this weekend in written or on video.

The following prayer is from the Center for Action and Contemplation community. I invite you to read it yourself below or to join with Richard Rohr in praying it (see also http://www.cac.org)

Loving God, you fill all things with a fullness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled for us all to see. We pray that you will take away our natural temptation for cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the courage to awaken to greater truth, greater humility, and greater care for one another. May we place our hope in what matters and what lasts, trusting in your eternal presence and love. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our suffering world. Please add your own intentions . . . Knowing, good God, you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.